We have a film striving to take a big step away from its predecessors, and it is all the better for doing so. Wrong Turn is an intense, well-written horror that puts its solid stamp on the genre.
When a dream trip turns into a nightmare, one group of friends finds themselves at the mercy of an urban legend – The Foundation. As a freak accident drives the group deeper into the mountains. They find themselves succumbing one by one to hunting traps large enough to take out anyone that dares venture off the beaten path.
What helps Wrong Turn become the enjoyable horror that it is, is that it isn’t the original or much to do with anything regarding the previous entries. It has its tale to tell, and your level of love in the prior franchise will depend on how attached you become to this more recent film. In truth, this is a reboot in name only. There is so much different that it seems to be just using the name to boost promotion. This is a shame as this is a pretty decent horror film and doesn’t need the franchise’s boost to get it more known.
This Turn away from the original franchise is only an improvement as this iteration is so much better than the previous entries. Perhaps this statement will make shocked some fans, but it is true, none of the earlier films was any good. There is a stark improvement in the acting, direction, cinematography, and although Wrong Turn is written by the same person (Alan B. McElroy), this is a far more substantial story.
With a mixture of sympathetic and some utterly horrible characters in this sextuple. We get to have the range of emotions and have our hopes pinned on certain characters getting the blunt edge of a log treatment. Using the opening act to see which feelings we will relate to the most (hint: if you veer more to Dylan McTee’s Adam, you need to correct yourself sharpish). The essence that these entitled young people should not be anywhere near where they are is prevalent throughout the film. Be it with what they say to the locals (never a good idea to make fun of people you don’t know, in the wilderness, they also don’t know) or their ineptitude to not listening to solid advice. Wrong Turn would be a pretty dull drama if these folks just did as they were told and stayed on the damn path.
We may be hit over the head (or have a trunk of a tree roll into it) with these characters traits and personalities, but it is sufficient to tell the story it wants to get across. Disrespect is a big thing here. Be polite and respectful to places and people you are visiting, and even though you are from the same country, they have different ways of living. Be it the small town nearby or The Foundation up in the mountain.
Wrong Turn is a film that grips you as soon as the group hit off the trail. Once the fan has been hit by something resembling mud, the film does not want to stop. With our group getting royally destroyed by everything they encounter. If someone said they were in the scouts or girl guides. We missed it as this crew bounce around without a care, even when they realise there are traps EVERYWHERE on this mountain.
What helps carry Wrong Turn is that every actor is giving their all to the film. There are no weak links amongst the cast, and when we get our first death. As an audience you feel for those left behind as their shock and dismay at what they witness feels real. Other than a group living for over 100 years in the mountain without any trouble and making the film far more real than it should. (Honestly, who doesn’t think there are communities living in their nearby woodland?).
However, the standout is our lead, Charlotte Vega, who takes the film by the neck and runs with it. We feel for her and root for her more than we would other final girls. When she makes the difficult choices at one point, our stomachs drop for her. We know what she is going to have to do to survive, and it hurts. This moment also utilises a tremendous call-back earlier in the bar that, although a McGuffin, is one that works well. This group are studying specialised things, and it comes in handy.
Let’s get to some of the horror portions within the film, shall we? Wrong Turn has some wonderful practical effects. Thanks to some wise direction, we don’t see all of the deaths immediately and are presented with the after-effects, which are equally distressing or enjoyable (depending on your joy of horror). Deaths shock you, and you truly get your money worth with what we see.
Tension is also increased steadily throughout the film, with the anxiety rising to a fever pitch when the remaining members of the group are captured and their trial begins. The situation turns from bad to worse pretty quickly when one of the group (you can guess who) doesn’t play along as they should. The confidence in the direction with horror allows us to settle more and truthfully scoot a little to the edge of our seat as we await the subsequent death. Not many horrors have done this lately, and it is such a refreshing feeling to get this way with a modern piece. The decision to take the film where it does in the last act is also unexpected and very refreshing with a finish the film deserves.
A horror film that is 109 minutes long takes full advantage of its extended time and develops the characters and their arcs well. Too many horror films feel it is necessary to run as short as possible. But they leave so much on the table by doing so. Not the case with Wrong Turn. This is a tight film that explains everything it needs to without boring the audience. Utilising flashbacks to tell the story of what happened to the group with Modine’s Scott searching for Jen is excellent. We get the right amount of breaks to give us a breather. Not only are they required, but they are wisely placed throughout the film. This shows a writer in McElroy who knows the genre and importantly knows pacing a story.
Now for all of the love given to the film, there are, of course, some misgivings to Wrong Turn. Firstly as mentioned previously, these smart idiots should not be doing what they do, be it ignorance; they should be more intelligent than this. But this is a horror, so characters have got to be dumb. Also, the film needed more reasoning than a simple misunderstanding to kick off the second half. Surely it would be easier explained that what happened was a mistake if the characters tried to talk to their captures. The Foundation are well versed in the normal civilisation yet refuse to use common sense in knowing that their group would look strange as hell to these young people.
Several minor complaints could litter this review. However the consensus is that this is a great movie that gives itself enough room to breathe and with excellent writing and acting. Wrong Turn should be a sure-fire hit.
Signature Entertainment presents Wrong Turn (2021) UK Home Premiere on Digital Platforms 26th February and Blu-Ray & DVD 3rd May.
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